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(Photo: Karess Carter)

Making a Permanent Lifestyle Change One Step at a Time

This story is provided and presented by Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

For Karess Carter, a DJ for Des Moines Radio Group, the Grand Blue Mile is her first race in her journey to make a permanent lifestyle change. Designed to specifically engage Iowans at all levels of fitness and encourage them to move and live better, the Grand Blue Mile is a perfect fit, according to The Des Moines Register. “I’m excited to participate in Grand Blue Mile because I will be with a community of people who are of like mind — taking it one step at a time to get healthier,” she said. “My goal is to try and jog half of it.”

To train for Grand Blue Mile she has been walking once a week around Raccoon River Park, which is an equivalent of a 5K. She sets small goals, such as jogging from one trash can to the next, to build her endurance. This positive attitude has served Carter well in her journey. From the beginning it was never about a number on a scale or the size on a tag in her clothes. She wanted to get off some medication, be able to exercise and get healthier. She was ready to commit to making a permanent lifestyle change.

She started by working with her doctor to try different weight loss strategies. When none of those seemed work, Carter didn’t get discouraged. Instead, she started researching different weight loss surgeries before deciding upon the gastric sleeve procedure. “I didn’t elect to have this procedure as a quick fix because there is no such thing,” said Carter. “Eight weeks prior to the procedure, I used a comprehensive weight management program to lose weight. Not only did I lose 25 pounds, it got me in a different mindset to make my huge lifestyle change.”

She dropped her pop habit opting for water instead, started exercising, began eating differently and found support in an online community of people working toward the same goals as her. In fact, she credits her support system as major part of her success. “There is no shame in what I wanted to do,” said Carter. “But I never thought I would have the support that I do. My listeners, co-workers, friends and family are all being very supportive, and it makes my journey a little bit easier.”

Even with the great support system, she struggles to find time for herself. And she will be the first to tell you that in order to succeed in her journey, she needs to exercise. “I am trying to move 30 minutes at least three times a week,” she said. “I walk the track at the gym and swim. I will also be incorporating weights into my workouts.” Now four months into her journey, she is down 90 pounds, lost several inches off her waist, cut her medication in half and will more than likely be off it all together in the next couple months. She has also signed up for her first 5K in May.

“There are almost no words for how I feel,” she said. “I have more energy, more confidence, and I don’t ache like I used to.” The best advice she has received so far is to take it day by day. The little steps add up to the permanent lifestyle change. And if you need that extra push to get you through your workout, she recommends the song “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon.

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